These plants may resemble tomato plants, but they are not all safe to consume. Some of them contain toxic substances and should be avoided.
Scientifically known as Solanum nigrum, the Black Nightshade is a species of flowering plant in the family Solanaceae. It is native to Eurasia and has been introduced in the Americas, Australasia, and South Africa. The plant has a musk-like smell when wilting and contains a chemical called solanine which can be toxic when consumed.
Also, read the article 10 Plants of the Bahamas
The green fruits contain the highest amounts of solanine and therefore are the most toxic parts of the plant. However, ripe berries and cooked leaves of edible strains are used as food in some locales, and plant parts are used as a traditional medicine.
Red Soda Apple
Red Soda Apple, scientifically known as Solanum capsicoides, is a perennial shrub that spreads similar to a tomato plant. It produces fruit that is round and red, similar to the cherry tomato. However, it’s important to note that the fruit on this plant is toxic.
This plant is native to the Mediterranean region and introduced in the South Carolina Lowcountry. It is also known as soda apple, sodaapple nightshade, goat apple, poison apple, or more ambiguously as “bitter apple”.
Scientifically known as Solanum carolinense, the Horse Nettle is not a true nettle, but a member of the Solanaceae, or nightshade family. It is a perennial herbaceous plant, native to the southeastern United States, though its range has expanded throughout much of temperate North America. The stem and undersides of larger leaf veins are covered with prickles.
The flowers have five petals and are usually white or purple with yellow centers. The fruits are berries that resemble tomatoes. The entire horse nettle plant contains a toxin called solanine, but the amount can vary wildly between plants. Ingesting any part of the plant can cause solanine poisoning.
Jamaican Nightshade, scientifically known as Solanum jamaicense, is a species of shrub in the nightshade family. It is a biennial, annual, or perennial plant. The plant is native to various regions including Pernambuco, Pará, Maranhao, Alagoas, Amazônia, RondôNia, The Contiguous United States, Caatinga, Acre (Brazil), Ceará, Mata Atlântica, Cerrado, Bahia, Amapá, and Puerto Rico.
It has wide-spread branches scattered with thorns. The plant displays clusters of light violet to white star-shaped flowers with yellow stamens sticking out from the center. If the flowers are pollinated, berries will develop. They are glossy and green then turn yellow when ripe. As a toxic plant, Jamaican Nightshade should not be eaten or consumed in any way.
Scientifically known as Solanum sisymbriifolium, the Litchi Tomato is a member of the nightshade family of plants just like tomatoes, eggplants, and potatoes. It was discovered and named by a French botanist. The plant can grow up to 8 feet tall and is covered in thorns.
It produces small green pods covered in thorns that enshroud the fruit. The flowers are starry and white, much like eggplant blooms. The fruits are cherry red and shaped like small tomatoes with a point on one end. The interior of the fruit is yellow to creamy gold and filled with tiny flat seeds. Despite its thorny nature, it is grown for its fruits which can be used in pies, salads, sauces, and preserves.
Persimmon is the edible fruit of a number of species of trees in the genus Diospyros. The most widely cultivated of these is the kaki persimmon, Diospyros kaki. Persimmons are not commonly considered to be berries, but morphologically the fruit is in fact a berry.
The tree typically reaches 4.5 to 18 meters (15 to 60 feet) in height and is round-topped. The leaves are 7–15 centimeters (3–6 inches) long and are oblong in shape with brown-hairy petioles 2 cm ( 3⁄4 in) in length. The fruits start off green and turn golden yellow before developing a deep red hue. Persimmons are high in important vitamins and minerals, including potassium, manganese, and vitamins A, C, and B. They also contain beneficial plant compounds like tannins and flavonoids.
Scientifically known as Solanum melanocerasum, the Garden Huckleberry is a member of the nightshade family of plants just like tomatoes, eggplants, and potatoes. It is native to Africa4 and produces 1/2” to 3/4”, deep purple-black berries. The berries are not impressive when eaten fresh, but when cooked and sweetened as one would Rhubarb, they will remind you of blueberries or Concorde grapes.
The intense purple-black hue of the berries indicates high levels of the antioxidant anthocyanin. This nutritious, quick-maturing annual produces masses of fruit in a short season.
Carolina Wolfberry, scientifically known as Lycium carolinianum, is a very adaptable small shrub. It grows well in sandy and clay soils9. It tolerates standing water for long periods but is also drought-resistant. With enough water in summer, it is evergreen. It is distinctive in having a four-lobed corolla, as most of the plants in the Solanaceae family have five lobes.
The fleshy red berry fades to purple in old or dried branches. It resembles a tomato and was eaten raw or dried by Native Americans8. It is relished by whooping cranes and other wildfowl.
Sharon fruit is a type of persimmon. It’s grown in the Sharon Plain in Israel, which gives it its name. Its astringency, or its bitterness and acidity, are stripped, making it able to be eaten at any level of maturity. This persimmon does not have seeds, nor does it have a core. Sharon fruit is sweet, but its taste and texture change as it matures.
When it’s young, Sharon’s fruit is sweet with a crisp texture. Then, it becomes softer and takes on a more saccharine flavor as it ripens. There are just over 70 calories in a whole piece of Sharon fruit. Persimmons are very healthy fruits to eat. Here are some Sharon fruit benefits you’ll reap when eating them: Vision maintenance, a Healthier heart, and Rich in nutrients.
The tamarillo (Solanum betaceum) is a small tree or shrub in the flowering plant family Solanaceae (the nightshade family). It is best known as the species that bears the tamarillo, an egg-shaped edible fruit. It is also known as the tree tomato. The tamarillo is native to the Andes of Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia. Today it is still cultivated in gardens and small orchards for local production, and it is one of the most popular fruits in these regions.
Other regions of cultivation are the subtropical areas throughout the world. The fruit contains small, tender, edible seeds (similar to a tomato) and can be eaten fresh, although the peel is usually avoided. Tamarillo is used in chutney, mixed into sauces, made into a dessert topping, pressed into juices, baked, and pickled.